We don’t need no stinkin’ Transcendental Masturbation!
I wrote this little essay in response to someone online asking about Robert Anton Wilson, “Did he even have any ideas of his own?”
RAW was a very cool and friendly brilliant guy, but he didn’t want to be a guru. That’s all the more reason, ironically, why people revere the guy. Aside from his fiction, which you either like or not depending on your own subjective preferences, most people think he was a rather gifted wordsmith. What he did with the words, I suspect, is the reason for the interest in his writings, as much if not more than the poetry of his writing. Yes, he was encyclopedic in his explorations of subjects, and he was humble enough (and helpful enough) to pretty much always show where ideas originated. Did he come up with original concepts himself? Some clever wordplay led to iconic characters, memorable scenes and lasting memes. I think a major part of what people love about the guy, are those lasting memes. That’s not a small thing, largely, I suspect, because he brought together all of these bizarre and astounding subjects and ideas with a framework of idealistic progressive liberal thought. Think of him as a kar-mechanic. He took all of these cool parts and put them together to give us a vehicle that we can drive around in. It’s a very cool vehicle. We have to make adjustments to it over time, but RAW advised us to do just that.
There was a reason George Carlin said, “I have learned more from Robert Anton Wilson than I have from any other source.” He was talking about the way RAW introduced him to a set of ideas. No minor achievement.
Honestly, people who love his writings love his writings because they offer so many great insights – often practical ones that we can use in daily life. I once asked RAW what kind of philosopher he thought he was. He said, “I’m not a philosopher, I’m more of a speculator. I make speculations about reality.” He wanted to downplay his role, out of humility I suspect, but he wanted to be taken seriously as well as critically. He says again and again in his books that you should absorb what he writes but you should think for yourself, and make your own decisions about “what it all means.”
We are, I suspect, as interested in the guy for models and discoveries he may have championed, as for the structure he gave to those models and discoveries. How to think about those models, as he elucidates in his many books, was his great gift. We refer to his writings as an acknowledgement of the wonderful usefulness of his work. Ironically, shedding light onto knowledge is the actual definition of a guru.
– Rasa, June 23, 2021
May I republish your article titled “We don’t need no stinking transcendental masturbation”?
Depends on where you want to republish it. If just online on another webpage, that’s fine. Please include a link to the original. If you want to publish it elsewhere, please contact Hilaritas Press through our contact form on this site. Thanks for enjoying the article!
isn’t THAT his “original idea”? to combine all those other ideas into one easy to swallow pill? I think his originality is just that: he deftly combined things that no one thought of combining at that time. To me, that’s a big deal. One stop shopping!
Well, .. if I may add my 23 cents … Bob himself sure seemed to keep track:
“Being a parent consists largely, for the first year or so, of running around, saying: Don’t put that in your mouth. Babies want to taste everything. You did that for the first year of your life, you were tasting everything you could get into your mouth that your parents couldn’t stop you from getting into your mouth by getting there on time to say: Don’t put that in your mouth!
That’s because .. ontology … ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. As a matter of fact, ontology recapitulates phylogeny, too, now that I think of it.
That’s the first original idea I had this week: ontology recapitulates phylogeny – our theories of being recapitulate evolution. I’ll explain that in a minute, now that I thought of it.
But anyway .. ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, and a baby is born with the most primitive circuitry in its brain already activated at birth. Life began with a simple oral-biosurvival brain; amoebas drift around, tasting everything. And if it’s nourishing they ingest it, if it’s not nourishing, they spit it out. Babies would probably do the same if we didn’t interfere with them by yelling: Don’t put that in our mouth!”
“How to tell Your Friends from the Apes”
Acting in accordance with the modern adage, or meme perhaps, “I’ll just leave this here”, I will sign off directly* after this, my very first verbal excretion on your wonderful site,
wishing you Love & Cheerfulness,
* Dionysos calls – must dash but will return!